GI-4: THE ARGUMENT FOR GOD FROM THE FINE-TUNING OF THE UNIVERSE (Part 2)

One sunny Fall morning, my wife was driving home from a visit to our daughter’s house in Illinois and was admiring the beautiful fall colors along the interstate. It was an especially windy day with winds blowing study at 40 to 50 mph and gusts much stronger. As she was driving, her attention was drawn to one particular tree, kind of off by itself, decked out in beautiful colors. The bright sunlight backlit the beautiful gold and orange leaves. Suddenly a powerful gust of wind blasted all the leaves off in a few seconds. She described it as an explosion of color like she had never seen before.

As I wrote in the last article, theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking wrote:

“The odds against a universe like ours emerging out of something like the Big Bang are enormous. I think there are clearly religious implications.” Elsewhere he said, “It would be very difficult to explain why the universe would have begun in just this way except as the act of a God who intended to create beings like us.” (Italics mine) Dr. Hawking did not believe in the God of the Bible.

According to science there are 122 constants that are necessary for life to exist in the universe. As promised, in this article I want to just look at twelve.

  1. Oxygen level—On earth, oxygen comprises 21% the atmosphere. The precise figure is an anthropic constant (that is, something unvarying or unchanging that is necessary for human life) that makes life on earth possible. If oxygen were 25%, fire would erupt spontaneously; if it were 15%, human beings would suffocate.
  2. Atmospheric Transparency—If the atmosphere were less transparent, not enough solar radiation would reach the earth’s surface. If it were more transparent, we would be bombarded with far too much solar radiation down here. (In addition to atmospheric transparency, the atmospheric composition of precise levels of nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, and ozone are in themselves vital anthropic constants.)” They are finely tuned constants that enable life to exist.
  3. Earth-Moon Gravitational Interaction—If the interaction (the gravitational pull between the earth and moon) were greater than it currently is, tidal effects on the oceans, atmosphere, and rotational period would be too severe. If it were less, orbital changes would cause climatic instabilities. In either event, life on earth would be impossible.
  4. The Tilt of Earth’s Axis—The 23.5° tilt of the earth is just right. This angle of tilt is responsible for the seasons that we experience. If the tilt were altered slightly, surface temperatures would be too extreme on earth to sustain life.” The moon’s size, distance from earth and gravitational pull all work to stabilize the earth’s tilt so that life can exist.
  5. Carbon Dioxide Level—If the CO2 level were higher than it is now, a runaway greenhouse effect would develop (we’d burn up). Plants make oxygen through a process called photosynthesis. Oxygen is produced as a waste product for the plant as the plant makes its own food. If the level of CO2 were lower than it is now plants would not be able to maintain efficient photosynthesis. We’d all suffocate from lack of oxygen.
  6. Gravity—If the gravitational force were altered by something like 1 part in 10 thousand billion, billion, billion, our sun would not exist, and, therefore, neither would we. That’s a decimal point followed by 32 zeroes and a 1. Talk about precision!
  7. Centrifugal Force—If the centrifugal force of planetary movements did not precisely balance the gravitational forces, nothing could be held in orbit around the sun.”
  8. Rate of Expansion—If the universe had expanded at a rate of one millionth more slowly than it did, expansion would have stopped and the universe would have collapsed on itself before any stars had formed. If it had expanded faster, then no galaxies would have formed.
  9. Speed of Light—Any of the laws of physics can be described as a function of the velocity of light (now defined as 186,000 mps). Even a slight variation in the speed of light would alter the other constants and prevent the possibility of life on earth.
  10. Water Vapor Levels—If water vapor levels in the atmosphere were greater than they are now, a runaway greenhouse effect would cause temperatures to rise too high for human life. If they were less, an insufficient greenhouse effect would make the earth too cold to support human life.
  11. Earth’s Speed of Rotation—If the rotation of the earth took longer than twenty-four hours, temperature differences would be too great between night and day. If the rotation period were shorter, atmospheric wind velocities would be too great.
  12. Atmospheric Discharge Rate—If the atmospheric discharge (lightning) rate were greater, there would be too much fire destruction; if it were less, there would be too little nitrogen fixing in the soil. The magnitude of the lightning transformation process in soil is remarkable. Worldwide, storms are estimated to produce one hundred million tons of useful nitrogen compounds each year. Nitrogen is the third most abundant element in the human body.

What makes this so interesting and amazing is that all those conditions (plus 110 more) must remain constant (steady or finely tuned) for there to be a solar system and life on earth.

Astrophysicist, Hugh Ross, calculated the probability of the twelve constants we just talked about plus 110 other necessary constants, all happening by chance. He said that odds of these constants occurring by chance are 1 in 10 to the 138th power. That’s a 1 with 138 zeroes after it. For another planet to exist by chance in the universe to support human life as on earth, the odds are infinitesimally small, unless there is an intelligent Designer. Just look at the complexity and intricacy of the human cell. Was that intentionally designed or did it come about merely by chance?

All the fine tuning in the universe is truly beyond comprehension. The individual factors that have gone in to making this universe, this particular solar system and this specific planet suitable for life is truly mind-blowing. It’s almost impossible to grasp. By being suitable for life, or life-permitting, scientists just mean those properties of organisms to take in food, extract energy from it, grow, adapt to its environment, and reproduce. In other words, LIFE.

Dr. William Craig wrote that for all of these constants to be so finely tuned with such precise accuracy, would be like firing a bullet toward the other side of the universe, some 20 billion light years away, and hitting a target one-inch square. Chance, or a finely tuned universe created by an infinite, eternal, all powerful, all wise Designer? Which one is the most reasonable inference?

Canadian philosopher, John Leslie, believes that the fine-tuning argument leaves us with
a choice between two possibilities:

  1. God is real. The only way to avoid that conclusion is to believe in the second possibility…
  2. The existence of a “multiverse.”

Some atheistic scientists believe that the multiverse theory suggests the simultaneous existence of many, possibly trillions, of parallel universes, in which (almost) anything is “theoretically” possible, will ultimately be proven. In other words, atheists who believe in a multiverse, believe that there are so many parallel universes out there (billions or trillions), that one like our life-permitting universe are not only possible, but probable. So, we shouldn’t be surprised by the existence of “our” universe, nor should we be surprised that there are other universes different than ours. We’re just “lucky” to happen to live in this one. So, there’s no need for God.

The question then arises, where did all those other universes come from? They still require a beginning, a starting point. How did they get there? Does their existence point us to Creator, who has fine-tuned them “just so?” So, going back to Professor Leslie’s two possibilities, both may be theoretically possible, but which one is the most reasonable explanation?

Dr. John Polkinghorne, who is a professor of physics with a doctorate in quantum field theory, as well as a second doctorate in elementary particle physics, rejects the multiverse theory saying,

“Let us recognize these speculations for what they are. They are not physics, but in the strictest sense, metaphysics (or beyond physics). There is no purely scientific reason to believe in an ensemble of universes. By construction these other worlds are unknowable by us. A possible explanation of equal intellectual respectability–and to my mind greater economy and elegance–would be that this one world (earth) is the way it is, because it is the creation of the will of a Creator who purposes that it should be so.”

Atheists accuse Christians of having a blind faith, because they say there is no evidence for the existence of God. To them faith is absurd. But, aren’t atheists guilty of the same thing when it comes to believing in a multiverse? Atheists categorize our faith in God and belief in heaven as irrational. But, isn’t belief in a multiverse even more irrational? My faith looks at the cosmological evidence and the fine-tuning evidence and says there must be a Creator who designed and fine-tuned all this “just so” for the purpose of creating life in general and human life specifically. But the atheist’s faith chooses to look at the evidence and believe in wild speculations like multiverses with no evidence. Isn’t that just belief in magic without a magician? Which is the most reasonable inference?

If you’ve been reading this and wondering if this whole God-thing is true or not, would you at least be willing to do something that maybe you have never done before? Would you just take a few seconds and pray? I’ll even tell you what to pray. Just a very simple, but sincere prayer:

“God, I don’t know about all this. But, if you’re really out there, would you somehow show yourself to me in a way that I could understand? Touch my mind and heart. If you’re out there, I sincerely want to know the truth. Amen.”

Ultimately, here’s the big SO WHAT question. This is what it boils down to. Is there anyone out there? How will you answer that question? Next time, we’ll look at the Moral Argument for God’s existence.

So until then, “in your hearts honor Christ as Lord, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.

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